Until recently, the typical digital home was divided into two segments: computing and entertainment. In the computing area, we'd browse the Web, send e-mail, maybe do some work, write papers for school, download MP3s and movies, create CDs, and edit video and photos. In the entertainment area, we'd watch and record TV and movies and listen to our CDs and MP3s. Do you notice some overlap? Electronics companies have been trying to build on that overlap for years in products like WebTV, AccessDTV, digital-media servers and computers like the Sony Vaio, an early attempt at a "media-center PC."
The newest attempts at capitalizing on digital overlap skip the small stuff and go all the way to complete integration. Media-center PCs are made for the home theater in terms of audio and video support, and they maintain all of the functions we've come to expect from a home computer. In this article, we'll find out what makes a PC a "media center," how it fits into a home theater and what you can do with it.